Proposal:Same Artist With Different Names Suggestion

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Status: This page describes a failed proposal. It is not official, and should only be used, if at all, as the basis for a new proposal.



Proposal number: RFC-Unassigned
Champion: None
Status: Failed, due to Officially closed as Abandoned, March 24, 2010
This proposal was not tracked in Trac.


Suggestion for improving the flexibility and accuracy of Artist relationships

Currently there are a number of artists on the MB database who for whatever reasons appear under different names. Many of these have been related using the AR 'Performs as'. Although in many cases this is technically accurate, there are also situations where this relationship is ambiguous, misleading or simply incorrect.

Example 1

Consider the artist Bill Monroe. For this wiki page we can deduce that Bill Monroe was the real name of the artist, and that he used the pseudonyms Joe Ahr, Rupert Jones, Wilbur Jones, Albert Price, James B. Smith & James W. Smith. He performed as Bill Monroe. However, when we try to relate these names we find that we can either specify that 'Bill Monroe is a performance name for Joe Ahr', or that 'Joe Ahr is a performance name for Bill Monroe'. Both of these are innaccurate.

The truth is that 'Bill Monroe composed under the pseudonym Joe Ahr'.

This may seem like we are being pedantic about the exact semantics of the statement, but clearly there is a problem here.

Example 2

Lets look at The Tapirs, Camouflage and Tapirerna. What we have here is a band that has changed it's name twice in it's history. The expression 'is a performance name for' is completely misleading. The three names did not exist concurrently but sequentially.

Example 3

This one will seem to very pedantic, but nevertheless, look at Cat Stevens. At first glance, all appears to be well, all the links are in place. Unfortunately, the statement 'is a performance name for the person Yusuf Islam' is untrue. The following statements are technically accurate:-

  • 'Cat Stevens was a performance name for Steven Demetre Georgiou'
  • 'Steven Demetre Georgiou changed his name to Yusuf Islam'

At no time since changing his name has Yusuf Islam used the name Cat Stevens - the names did not exist concurrently. You could argue that the given dates constrain this concurrency, but the relationships are at best confusing.

Example 4 (The last one)

Big Walter "Shakey" Horton. Walter Horton never used a psuedonym, but appears on album listings as Walter Horton, Big Walter Horton, Walter "Shakey" Horton, Shakey Horton etc...etc. These were simply alternative ways in which he was known or credited. It would be misleading to suggest that 'Shakey Horton was a performance name for Walter Horton'. It's just how the record company chose to identify him on certain albums. It's a nickname.

OK. So what's the big deal?

From the above examples, it should be clear that the common factor in each case is the expression 'is a performance name for'. There are in fact three distinct case when an artist appears with a different name:-

  • Change of name - Sequential. each side of the relationship represents a different stage in the artist's career.
  • Use of a pseudonym - Concurrent. The artist uses a stage name, pen name etc. for legal, personal or other reasons.
  • AKA/Commonly known as/nickname/sometimes credited as - Concurrent. This is simply alternate ways in which the artist has been credited. The same recorded work often appears on different releases using variations on the artist's name.

The 'Performs as' AR has three limitations:-

  • It is always concurrent, and cannot convey information about a change of name.
  • It is uni-directional and cannot be used to accurately describe situations like example 1 above.
  • Does not differentiate between 'official' pseudonyms and 'sometimes credited as' nicknames

So what do you want us to do about it?

The 'Performs as' AR would be much more flexible if it were simply presented as 'Alternative name', with a qualifying option which is one of 'Changed name to', 'Used the pseudonym' or 'Also known as'.

Let's try it on the above examples.

We create a relationship between Bill Monroe and Joe Ahr:-

  • 'Bill Monroe used the pseudonym Joe Ahr'.

Next we add an AR to a track using the pseudonym. Now we can display the following:-

  • 'Somename Blues was written by Joe Ahr (pseudonym used by Bill Monroe)' - Yep. That looks right
  • 'Bill Monroe uses the psuedonyms Joe Ahr, Rupert Jones....' - Also true

Next.

  • 'The Tapirs changed their name to Camouflage'
  • 'Camouflage changed their name to Tapirerna'

...reading backwards...

  • Camouflage were previously named The Tapirs'

All looking good so far.

  • 'Sad Lisa was written and performed by Cat Stevens (pseudonym for Steven Demetre Georgiou)

Hmm. Semantically and technically correct, but I admit it looks a bit weird, as I have never seen it written like that :-)

Finally,

  • 'Track performed by Shakey Horton (also known as Walter Horton)

We still have a single AR which can clearly represent the relationship between multiple entities representing the same artist with a different name - we just choose one of the three qualifying options to define the precise relationship.